Spanish – The dreaded Sinaloa Cartel, one of the most notorious criminal groups in the world, has found the perfect refuge in Venezuela to operate under the complacent gaze of Nicolás Maduro’s regime.
El cartel de Sinaloa ha utilizado a Venezuela como un trampolín para sacar sus cargamentos a diversas partes de la región. Su influencia ha llegado a tal punto, que un pueblo del estado de Zulia ha adaptado su nombre. https://t.co/W1UfENP4Zo
— InSight Crime ES (@InSightCrime_es) April 4, 2020
An article published by InSight Crime reveals that the Mexican cartel is staying in a town called Machiques de Perijá in the northwestern state of Zulia in western Venezuela.
“Local residents near the border with Colombia say that the presence of Mexicans is so strong the town has been unofficially renamed Sinaloa,” InSight Crime reports.
Sources reportedly revealed to InSight Crime a “range of evidence they say confirms the presence of emissaries from Mexican criminal groups. Ranchers, local manufacturers, and residents have all witnessed luxury vehicles entering town, parties blaring with narcocorridos, increased demand for prostitution, and other abnormalities that have changed everyday life.”
“Sinaloa isn’t just a random name, many of the pilots [of drug planes] are Mexican. We’ve seen them talking in hotels, and a person with this accent is easy to remember. They call this town of ours Sinaloa,” one local told InSight Crime on the condition of anonymity.
According to the article, Mexicans who have settled in Venezuela have pressured residents to convert basic landing strips into places with capacity for the movement of airplanes that carry large amounts of money and drugs.
According to investigations, Mexican traffickers in Venezuela may have taken over about 400 clandestine airstrips in the state of Zulia alone, on the border with Colombia, with the help of the National Liberation Army (ELN) and Venezuelan armed forces.
The regime-sponsored cartel alliance
The Suns Cartel, headed by Venezuelan Army officials and members of the Nicolás Maduro regime, operates in the South American country. According to investigations, this criminal organization has links with the Mexican Sinaloa Cartel.
In September 2019, it was revealed that Nicolás Maduro’s regime had camouflaged Mexican drug money in the CLAP subsidized food boxes.
“The investigators hypothesize that, given the nature of Venezuela’s narco-state, it is normal that the Chavista leaders would try to solve the country’s need for food, while at the same time, looking for a way to obtain payments from the Mexican cartels for the cocaine that leaves through Venezuela,” one of the contributors to the investigation told Spain’s ABC.
The report reveals that the U.S. Treasury Department discovered that both Diosdado Cabello and Tareck El Aissami used the terminal of the Venezuelan state-owned company Alunasa in Puerto Limón, Costa Rica, to bring illicit money into the financial system. This money then ends up in Russian bank accounts linked to Chavista officials.
Mike Vigil, the former director of international operations at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), said in March that since the late 1990s, the founder of the Sinaloa cartel, drug trafficker Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman, has been in contact with the criminal organization linked to Chavismo, thanks to the fact that the Colombian cartels operate safely in Venezuelan territory.
According to DEA investigations cited by Vigil, the Suns and Sinaloa cartels reportedly move between 200 and 250 tons of Colombian cocaine a year to the United States.